There are about 3.9 million Americans who work from home at least half of the time, according to a report from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs. On top of that, this number is steadily growing each year, as employers are finding that employees who work from home are typically more productive and happier with their flexible schedules.
If you work from home or have the option to telecommute for a few days every week, you know that there are certainly some pluses to not having to get up early in the morning and face rush hour traffic to go to the office. But are there any downsides to it?
Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of working from home for those of you out there who are trying to take the plunge into the world of telecommuting.
The Pros of Working from Home
You Can Wake Up and Start Your Day Later
A hellish commute can make our days start as early as 4:30 A.M. just to beat the traffic. One huge benefit of working from home is that your “commute” takes less than 30 seconds, and you don’t even have to shower before you get to your desk. Although there are definitely benefits to getting up earlier, heading to the gym, and sprucing yourself up before you sit down to work, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy that little bit of extra sleep you get when you don’t have a commute.
You Save Money on Gas and Car Maintenance
Driving to and from work can really take a toll on your car, which can make car maintenance more expensive. Commuting also means that you’ll have to fill up your gas tank way more often, adding even more to your weekly expenses. By working from home, you’ll only need to drive your car when you need to go run errands, meet up with coworkers, or do something fun to get yourself out of the house.
You Can Wear Your Pajamas All Day Long
While we certainly wouldn’t recommend that you work in your pajamas all day, every day, it’s quite the luxury to not have to be trapped inside an uncomfortable suit when you’re working. You have the freedom to choose what kinds of clothes you wear, which in turn will save you some serious cash on business attire.
The Cons of Working from Home
It’s Easy to Get Stir Crazy
When you’re working in an office setting, you’re constantly checking the clock to see when you can go home. But when you’re working from home, you can easily start to feel trapped in your apartment. If you’re a telecommuter, it’s really important to take regular breaks to stretch, go outside, and even go work at a coffee shop or pub if there’s one nearby.
You Can Lose Human Connection
Working in an office setting means that you’ll typically have a lot of coworkers to chat and complain about your tasks (and maybe even your boss) with. When you’re working from home alone, you can do that via a Google chat or a text message thread, but it’s not quite the same as the real human connection you get in real life.
Losing that human connection can lead to intermittent sadness and even depression. If you know that you’re susceptible to this, schedule a meetup with coworkers or friends who are close by or commit to going into the office at least one day a week (assuming that you have an office nearby). Co-working spaces are also helpful for telecommuters, providing them with places where they can quietly work as well as network and build relationships with the other telecommuters and business owners in town.
You Tend to Work More
Companies value telecommuters because they are by and large more productive than those who work in a typical office setting. There are a lot of distractions at work, as well as a lot of office get-togethers or socials that can take time away from getting tasks done. Because you are constantly focused on work at home — and not on all the fun office happenings — you are theoretically able to accomplish more.
Of course, this is a double-edged sword. While it feels great to get tasks accomplished and push yourself toward new limits at work, you can also start to feel like you are constantly working. It’s more difficult to find a work-life balance when you work from home because it’s easy to just “answer one last email” after dinner or “turn in one more thing” to your boss before they come into the office in the morning. Remember: just because you work from home does not mean that you should be on call 24/7. You need to make time for yourself that doesn’t involve work.